Fr. Rick’s Homily 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 66:18-21; Ps 117:1-2; Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30

August 21, 2022

 Today’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (12:11-13):  ‘At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.  So, strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.  Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.’  Hebrews 12:11-13

The Latin root word for both discipline and learner is ‘disciplina’.

A disciple is a disciplined student.

And then from Luke (13:22-30)

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, or many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”…

“We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”  … Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from.” 

It’s interesting to reflect on when and where we learned discipline. It was a daily lesson in life that built on itself and branched into all different areas of experience.  For me, it was conforming to the rules of a household with ‘German-esc’ parents and six children, Catholic schools (!); helping out in a family business, showing up at practice in a variety of team sports, learning multiplication tables and basic rules of grammar; Air Force basic training; college degree in four years (interestingly, in 1980 full time in-state college tuition at Arizona State University was $350!  The GI Bill at that time paid almost that much each month.  With some part time jobs I was able to graduate with zero debt.  It was a different world); and there was showing up daily READY TO WORK; later learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours; Catholic Seminary; THEN showing up hourly READY TO SERVE whomever walks through the door……

I’m sure your list of discipline-learning opportunities is at least as arduous and extensive as mine which required an everyday effort of choosing to participate or not.  Participation is essential, not an option. 

So, what is so difficult about being Catholic that we need all this discipline?  Why this talk about a ‘narrow gate’?  I mean God is merciful and He loves all of us, right?

Being Catholic is really not that difficult.  You memorize some basic doctrine, remember it for a few weeks or months, get your rituals and then your sacramental certificates and you’re pretty much ‘good to go’, right?  Then you show up at Mass when you don’t have anything ‘more important’ to do and be a nice person to other nice people.  Why all the drama in these Scriptures?  You will be cast out of the Kingdom if we don’t really know Jesus?  What?!  Wailing and grinding of teeth?  Really?  Who writes this stuff?!!

We gain some insights from the first reading from Isaiah:  ‘I come to gather nations of every language’.  OK, that’s God talking and He can do everything, right?  Why the drama?

Well, it’s because God has called a Holy People to act on His behalf.  Our participation is essential, not an option.  Most successful endeavors require teamwork and relationship building.  For real protracted success we need to know each other well; ‘to know where you are from’ in the words of Jesus.  It’s not enough to eat and drink and listen to good teaching.  As Disciples of Christ, we are required to BE the teachers and to faithfully follow ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life,’ as proclaimed today in the Gospel Acclamation.

I would suppose that most of you who are visiting today have been in parishes larger that St. Christopher’s/St. Dominic’s.  All of the locals have.  In a city, you expect to see people from ‘all nations’ in Mass.  All ethnicities, all ages and ideologies.  How can you possibly communicate with such a diverse group?  Who can be expected to learn all the languages, even between generations of the same idiom?

The language of course is Jesus Christ:  The Way, the Truth and the Life.  It’s sacramental. 

We use the same signs and forms in all cultures.  Someone has to learn it, teach it, pray faithfully DAILY and live it.  That’d be US!  We need to participate.  Not just eat, drink and listen.

So, think back to where and when we learned discipline.  How much has changed and how much is the same.  Tuition has changed.  The GI Bill has changed since the Viet Nam era.  Automobile technology has changed.  Sports technology and training methods and salaries.  Although lots of grants and scholarships are available, Catholic schools are less accessible, generally speaking, for middles class families with several kids.  Our approach to religious and spiritual formation has changed massively although the teachings themselves have remained intact.   How do we translate our life experience to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren?  How do we share our spiritual journey with young people so that it makes sense to the world they are inheriting, not the world that we inherited?

So, back to discipline.  In all other endeavors of life, to be successful and meaningful, we need to form communities, communicate effectively, and follow some agreed upon rules.  In the Catholic Church we take it to another level.  We grow into a genuine COMMUNION of believers.  COMMUNION as in sacramental.  We become one Body; one Spirit in Christ.  This requires more than just eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ and listening to even the most interesting, inspiring and well-crafted homily.

In modern parlance, building the Kingdom of God is ultimately about building cultures of LIFE.  One relationship at a time.  One community at a time which then connects with other communities which reach out globally.  Forever.

Where and when did you learn discipline in your life?

How has it prepared you to follow Jesus?

How have your life experience and religious formation prepared you to be builders of genuinely PRO-LIFE communities?   See the learning opportunities in the bulletin today.


Gearing up for the ‘post Roe’ World.  The Good News is that we know how to do it!!  The bad news is that we know how to do it……. and will be held accountable for our efforts. ↓↓↓

Respect for Life Resources Diocese of Salt Lake City

Walking with Mothers in Need in Utah

Voting Genuinely Pro-Life

Real Pro-Life Intimacy

What is Theology of the Body?

Genuinely Pro-Life Society – Stewardship

Prayer from the Heart (Catechism of Catholic Church – CCC:  2562-2563)

Chastity (CCC 2337-2344)     Google it.  It comes right up.